Yes, a VPN protects you from your ISP by hiding your IP address, thus hiding your online activity from them.
However, without a VPN, ISPs can see everything you’re up to online, including your browsing history, the files you download, and the movies and TV shows you stream.
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The Benefits of Using a VPN to Hide From Your ISP
There are several reasons why people use a VPN instead of simply connecting to the internet and hoping they’re the only ones who can see what they’re up to.
Check out some of the benefits of using a VPN below.
A VPN that assigns you a new IP address upon connecting, using 256-bit AES encryption, ensures your browsing activities are private by stopping your ISP from checking the websites you visit.
Torrenting is considered illegal in different countries (like China), meaning you could land yourself in serious trouble if you torrent via a direct connection and get caught downloading something you shouldn’t.
VPNs add a layer of encryption between you and your ISP, so it’s unlikely you’ll ever get caught downloading or streaming copyrighted movies or TV Shows with apps like Popcorn Time.
Private Browsing on All Your Devices
Securing the computer you’re using so your ISP can’t track your activity is great, but what about everyone else that’s connected to your home wifi?
Most providers allow VPN connections on up to 5 devices simultaneously, and some offer unlimited connections.
That means you can stay protected from your ISP on your desktop, Mac, iPhone, Android, games console, and Firestick.
4k movie streams, torrenting, and video conferencing apps hog a ton of bandwidth, and if your ISP detects high bandwidth usage, they’ll throttle (slow) your connection.
By using a VPN, your ISP can’t detect a bandwidth spike, meaning you can enjoy a throttle-free connection.
Bonus: Unblock Streaming Restrictions
Media streaming catalogs like Netflix limit their content libraries based on where you’re connecting from.
If you’re in the UK and wish to access the most extensive Netflix streaming catalogs available in the US, connecting to a US VPN server will bypass these restrictions.
The Top VPNs to Protect You From Your ISP
There are plenty of VPN providers out there that claim to hide your identity from your ISP.
Unfortunately, not every provider uses the encryption technology required to conceal your IP address.
However, I’ve personally tested the providers below to ensure your IP address and online activities are hidden at all times.
NordVPN encrypts your connection with military-grade encryption and comes with advanced privacy tools like malware detection warnings.
You’ll get up to six simultaneous device connections.
It can also unblock US Netflix and BBC iPlayer.
Surfshark is a super-affordable VPN provider that operates a no-logs policy from the British Virgin Islands.
It comes with unlimited simultaneous device connections and server speeds that are incredible across multiple locations.
ExpressVPN has a wide selection of server locations, excellent speeds and keeps your activity shielded from ISPs.
It includes advanced privacy features such as an internet kill switch, split-tunneling, and DNS leak protection to ensure your connection is bulletproof.
CyberGhost offers obfuscated servers but takes things a step further by providing specialized servers relative to the activity you’re doing, i.e., servers for streaming and torrenting.
It also has a zero-logs policy and includes comprehensive server coverage.
Private Internet Access has a vast server network, offering private browsing and downloads.
Plus, you’ll get full P2P support, excellent customer service, and reasonable pricing (especially on the monthly plan).
Yes, theoretically, your ISP can see that you’re using a VPN.
If they don’t mention that they can detect VPN usage, you might be safe (although that’s not always the case).
Even if your ISP can identify a VPN, that’s often the extent of their tracking capabilities.
They can see you’re exchanging data over an encrypted connection, but that’s it.
So the websites you visit, the files you download, the movies you stream, and the online games you play remain your private business.
If you’re uncomfortable with your ISP seeing that you’re using a VPN, you could select a VPN provider that uses obfuscated servers.
Obfuscation makes it harder for your ISP to detect the usage of a VPN.
For example, many websites like Omegle prohibit VPNs and use advanced scanners to track VPN usage to block people who use them.
In the same way, ISPs can detect VPNs by tracing your geo-location and comparing it with your IP address location.
If you live in the US and are connected to a UK server, your US GPS location won’t match the UK server IP address location.
Fortunately, VPNs that use obfuscated servers prevent your ISP from seeing that you’re using a VPN, even if they’re using GPS and IP tracking technology.
If you’re looking for a provider that uses obfuscation, I recommend ExpressVPN, as all of its servers are obfuscated.
Does a VPN Hide Browser History From My Router?
Yes, your browsing history will be hidden from your router while using a VPN.
Generally, home use broadband routers (not the ones supplied by your ISP) have limited memory and, therefore, cannot store records of your browsing history.
Your router may, however, keep network logs.
Enabling a VPN will ensure your browsing activities remain hidden from your router by providing robust encryption.
However, a router may record the point when you connect to a VPN server.
Will a VPN Protect Me From ISP Throttling?
Yes, a VPN will protect your connection from bandwidth throttling.
When you connect to a VPN server, your connection is encrypted, so your ISP sees data being transferred but cannot identify what’s inside the data packets.
For example, torrenting requires massive bandwidth to download files using clients like uTorrent or Vuze.
An ISP might throttle (slow down) a direct internet connection identified as torrenting.
Not only that, but they’d flag you for copyright infringement to the copyright owner.
Stick with a VPN, and you’ll enjoy throttle-free connectivity.
ISPs typically collect information on internet browsing and download history, storing them securely in case law enforcement requests them.
Your ISP may also keep ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) logs.
These data logs collect device-specific information such as MAC addresses, IP addresses, the gateway router, and session dates and times.
If a copyright owner detects illegal downloads of their content, they’ll request information from the government, who’ll then request the data held by your ISP.
What Does My ISP Do With My Data?
Your ISP may store your browsing data on a secure server for a set time period.
Each ISP is different, but some store browsing records for up to 7 years before scheduled deletion.
ARP logs may be collected hourly, but these often have a shorter retention rate by your ISP, being erased within six months of recording them.
If you’re concerned about what your ISP may be collecting about your internet usage or what they already have on file, you can ask them or put forward a freedom of information request.
A decent VPN does a great job of protecting you from your ISP.
After all, your data and privacy belong to you, so it’s fair to block them from watching your every move.
VPN obfuscation ensures VPN usage is harder to detect, although only a handful of providers use this technology.
My top VPN recommendation is NordVPN, as it has obfuscated servers, advanced privacy features like malware detection and ad-blocking, and unblocks geo-restricted content.
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